Are we still ‘human’?

Professor Rosi Braidotti

The way humans interact with each other and society is changing. From carrying out tasks using voice activated machines; engaging in issues with a global scale like climate change; to medical advances enabling surgeons to have complete power over a patient’s physiology – technological, political and social advances are pushing the understanding of our existence to the limit.

To explore these ideas, and the ever-shifting definition of what it means to be ‘human’, world leading scholar in the field of materialism, continental philosophy and gender studies, Professor Rossi Braidotti, will be visiting Australia next week to present this year’s Thinking Out Loud lecture series presented by the Philosophy Research Initiative at Western Sydney University’s School of Humanities and Communication Arts.

In the series’ seventh year, Professor Braidotti – Distinguished University Professor at Utrecht University; author of numerous books including Nomadic Subjects (2011) and The Posthuman (2013); recipient of a Royal Knighthood from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands; University Medal from the University of Lodz in Poland; and Honorary degrees from Helsinki University and Linköping University, Sweden – will explore ideas relating to defining what it means to be ‘human’ in the face of change.

While some scholars consider this era – where tumultuous social, political and technological change are rewiring our lives – a dystopian vision of the future, Professor Rosi Braidotti says it is rather a “defining trait of our historical condition.”  
“My underlying conviction is that the posthuman condition – one that exists in a state beyond being human – is far from being a crisis, let alone an indicator of extinction,” says Professor Braidotti.

“Instead, it marks a rich and complex historical transition, which affords huge opportunities for both humans and for the Humanities to re-invent themselves. Like all transitions, however, it requires some vision and experimental energy, as well as endurance.  Are ‘we’ in this together?”

So how can we best prepare for such an era, and for such change? Professor Braidotti says we firstly need to, “learn to address the contradictions of the posthuman condition not only intellectually, but also emotionally, and to do so in an affirmative manner, as a society.”

“We should approach our historical contradictions not as some bothersome burden, but rather as the building blocks of a sustainable present, even if this approach requires some drastic changes to our familiar mind-sets and established values,” she says.  
Thinking Out Loud is presented by the Philosophy group at Western Sydney University in conjunction with ABC RN and Fordham University Press.

Event details

What: Thinking Out Loud Lecture Series 2018  
Where: Theatrette of the Powerhouse Museum  
Time: 5.30pm to 7.30pm

April 16, Lecture 1: What counts as the human right now?

Please join us for reception and drinks at 5pm outside the Theatrette.

April 18, Lecture 2:  The human after humanism

April 20, Lecture 3: Is the proper study of mankind man?

Cost: $10 per lecture; $25 for the series. Bookings essential, available here.

Professor Braidotti was interviewed by the ABC’s Philosopher’s Zone about this upcoming Lecture Series.


10 April 2018

Emma Sandham, Senior Media Officer.